The Rupp Report: The Missed First Impression
Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor
Heimtextil, the International Trade Fair for Home and Contract Textiles, took place Jan. 8-11, 2014. The organizers said that this year’s show saw a significant increase in both visitors and exhibitors: nearly 67,000 visitors from 133 countries — compared to 65,835 visitors in 2013 — came to see the latest products and innovations from 2,718 international exhibitors — compared to 2,616 in 2013. The next Heimtextil in Frankfurt am Main will be held Jan. 14-17, 2015.
Positive Feedback …
The organizers claim that the show was a big success in spite of all recent troubles around the globe, “sending out a positive signal to the sector.” Of great importance is the fact that many leading European companies came back to Frankfurt as exhibitors. The numbers are quite impressive: according to a survey, 94 percent of visitors said they had achieved their target at the exhibition. On the other hand — and this seems to be more important — the exhibitors were pleased with the quality of the visitors. Seventy-nine percent of the exhibitors declared their satisfaction with the outcome of the fair.
… With A High Level Of Internationality
One of the main reasons for the ongoing success of Heimtextil is the still high level of internationality: more than 66 percent of visitors and 88 percent of exhibitors came from outside Germany. Growth was noted particularly from Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, South America and South Korea. Some halls were full of exhibitors from Asian countries including India and China, giving the feeling of being at an Asian show rather than at Heimtextil in Germany. It will be interesting to see if this last big textile show in Frankfurt — apart from Techtextil — will remain or go the same way as Interstoff did some years ago. Interstoff disappeared, and most of the important product shows moved to Asia.
Growing Market For Digital Textile Printing
One of the outstanding trends at this year’s Heimtextil was the shift toward digital textile printing. This was obvious by the increased number of exhibitors and innovations in that sector. Some producers of inkjet printers made presentations at Heimtextil for the first time, while some increased the size of their exhibition booths.
Hardly any other area of the finishing/printing sector has made such a giant leap in development in the last 10 years. From a very slow beginning, taking hours to produce a few square meters, the production speed has gone up dramatically. The advantages of new printing technology are more than obvious: Mainly, it reduces the massive costs of producing samples or even complete ranges of printed fabrics. In the 1970s, a full range of printed fabrics including some color samples was produced at costs of double-digit millions of dollars, not including all the greige fabrics that had to be used for the sampling material. If one added the costs of design, screens and roller engraving, it was virtually a dance on the wire to produce successful collections. By applying inkjet technology, most of these costs are eliminated, even the costs of greige fabrics. Modern design programs can even imitate the surface of the chosen fabric structure. Inkjet or digital printing is definitely a technology that will further grow, and the Rupp Report will certainly have an eye on that in the near future.
The Missed Opportunity
However, there is another thing that is hard to understand at an exhibition — and which was apparent at Heimtextil too, and not only at booths of exhibitors from outside Europe. Basically the target of a booth at an exhibition is to present the products of the exhibitor and eventually to sell something. Keeping in mind that another maybe 100 competitors are there too to sell comparable products, every bit of a chance should be taken to attract visitors to come into the booth, ask them questions and possibly sell them something. Wherever it is — at machinery shows like ITMA Asia + CITME, or at fabric-oriented shows like Heimtextil — one can see that very often the personnel in the booth don’t seem to be very keen to visit with people. Some are eating, some are chatting with their booth mates, some are playing with their cell phones, and some are not even there when they should be. The list could be extended with many more examples of how to prevent possible customers from entering the booth.
Handle With Care
How do these people handle their customers? Is it the same as if one is calling a company and has to wait for minutes just to get somebody on the phone? In every low-level management course, customer relations are at the top of the list. Companies are spending a lot of money to install smooth customer and after-sales service and to have an attractive website. But it seems that companies often forget that successful sales are all about people. And topping off an incomplete list of how to discourage customers is the language barrier. Asian companies especially have this problem. How on earth can they be successful if nobody in the booth speaks a word of a language other than Chinese, Urdu, Hindi or Japanese?
Today, quality is not an attribute of being successful but rather a prerequisite. And you never get a second chance for a first impression. So, if you, as a potential customer, are standing in front of a row of booths that are all selling more or less the same stuff, where would you go to buy something? In the booth where somebody’s eating, drinking or having fun with his cell phone? Or would you prefer to go to the booth where someone is looking at you with a smile and welcoming you to come in? There are a few important exhibitions that will take place in the near future; ITMA Asia + CITME is just one mentioned. The Rupp Report is curious to know how you, dear reader, handle this issue with your people and how you prepare your team for an important event. If you have something to say, or something to share with the community of the readers, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 21, 2014